William J. Abbott

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William J. Abbott
Born (1962-04-25) April 25, 1962 (age 57)
Alma materCollege of the Holy Cross
OccupationCEO of Crown Media Family Networks (2009–2020)
Spouse(s)Shannon
Children4
AwardsCablefax 100 (2009—2016)

William J. "Bill" Abbott (born April 25, 1962) is the former President and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, the parent of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. His career in the entertainment industry has focused on family television for over 25 years. He piloted "Countdown to the Holidays", Hallmark’s signature marketing and programming initiative, including its “Countdown to Christmas” campaign. Since becoming CEO in 2009, he spearheaded the addition of scripted series for primetime, including Cedar Cove and When Calls the Heart, as well as the launch of the yearly special Kitten Bowl. Abbott has been featured in the Cablefax 100 list of top power players every year from 2009 through 2016.[1] He also received Diversity Partner Award from the T. Howard Foundation in 2016.[2] He is married with four children; one child is from his previous marriage.[3]

Crown Media[edit]

Abbott joined Crown Media Family Networks in 2000 as its executive vice president of advertising sales. There, he led the national advertising sales operations for the networks, internet services and digital network development and oversaw its offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.[4] In 2004, he oversaw the launch of Hallmark Movie Channel. During his tenure as EVP of advertising sales, Hallmark Channel’s annual advertising revenue increased from $10.2 million to $223 million. TV Week credited Abbott as "one of the smartest, yet unsung, ad sales executives in the TV business."[5]

As CEO[edit]

Abbott succeeded Henry Schleiff as President and CEO of Crown Media, June 1, 2009.[6][7] In his first year, Abbott made a deal with Martha Stewart to create a lifestyle block on Hallmark Channel that premiered in March 2010.[3] The following year, Abbott launched Hallmark's "Countdown to Christmas" campaign, and in 2015 featured Mariah Carey in her directorial debut in A Christmas Melody, with a slate of 17 new original movies, and a celebrity lineup including "Lori Loughlin, Dermot Mulroney, Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure, William Shatner and Christopher Lloyd."[8] He also aimed to produce content that could provide synergy between Hallmark Cards and Hallmark Media Networks, with an eye towards the channel's first scripted series.[3]

In 2012, he revived the daytime Emmy-nominated lifestyle program The Home and Family Show. Abbott also diversified and expanded the network's content to include primetime scripted series including Cedar Cove (2013–2015) and When Calls the Heart (2014–Present), an honoree of the 2016 Christopher Spirit Award.[9] Separately, he oversaw the 2014 rebranding of Hallmark Movie Channel to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which has grown in ratings and wider distribution.[10]

Abbott discovered advantages in Hallmark being independent in that he is better able to work quickly and flexibly, but has criticized The Cable Act of 1992 as creating an uneven playing field.[11] He has found success catering to older demographics compared to other networks by "bucking the trend in the entire business."[12]

In January 2020, Abbott stepped down as CEO of Crown Media, a little more than a month after the network apologized for removing advertisements featuring same-sex couples from the air.[13][14][15]

Early life and career[edit]

Abbott grew up on Long Island, New York and remains a fan of the New York Yankees in baseball and New York Islanders in hockey.[3] He originally considered becoming a teacher,[16] and received a Bachelor of Arts from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1984.[17] His early work experience includes positions as a spot buyer for the agency Nadler & Larimer in 1984-1985, a research manager for Seltel Inc. from 1985-1987, and a research manager for CBS Radio Networks in 1988.[3] In cable television, he began work at the start of The Family Channel in 1988 and continued through its later operation as Fox Family Worldwide in various advertising sales and research positions.[4] He was promoted to senior vice president of advertising sales for Fox Family Worldwide, and represented both Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network for advertising sales, working with Margaret Loesch, whom he followed to the Odyssey Network as it transitioned to Hallmark Channel.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Lists". Cablefax.
  2. ^ "800 Media Professionals Celebrate Industry Diversity Strides at THF's Annual Awards Dinner and Fundraiser". T. Howard Foundation. April 1, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Lafayette, Jon (September 19, 2011). "Wearing the Crown No Easy Job". Broadcasting & Cable.
  4. ^ a b "William J. Abbott" (PDF). Crown Media Family Networks.
  5. ^ "Bill Abbott, President and CEO of the Hallmark Channels, Who Came Up on the Ad Side of the Business, On the Importance of Brand Strategy". TV Week. May 5, 2010.
  6. ^ Crupi, Anthony (May 6, 2009). "Schleiff to Exit Crown Media's Top Post, Abbott to Helm". Adweek.
  7. ^ Schneider, Michael (May 6, 2009). "Schleiff out as Crown Media CEO". Variety.
  8. ^ Keveney, Bill (September 15, 2015). "Mariah Carey tops Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas". USA Today.
  9. ^ "Emmy Award-Winning Anchor Ernie Anastos and Popular Hallmark Channel Series "When Calls the Heart" to Receive Special Christopher Awards". April 20, 2016.
  10. ^ Hultgren, Kaylee (September 16, 2014). "5Q With Crown Media Family Networks' Bill Abbott". Cablefax.
  11. ^ Weisler, Charlene (May 30, 2013). "Q&A With Crown Media CEO Bill Abbott". TV Board (MediaPost).
  12. ^ Bark, Ed (July 30, 2015). "Hallmark Channel Caters to Older Demo, Serves Up "Success" at TCA". TV Worth Watching.
  13. ^ Mallenbaum, Carly. "Hallmark Channel exec steps down without explanation, one month after same-sex ad flap". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  14. ^ Holcombe, Madeline. "Hallmark's Crown Media CEO exits one Month after Same-Sex Marriage ad Backlash". southfloridagaynews.com. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  15. ^ "Crown Media President, CEO Bill Abbott Steps Down". ph.news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  16. ^ Lafayette, Jon (October 16, 2017). "Fates and Fortunes: William J. Abbott President and CEO, Crown Media Holdings and Crown Media Family Networks". Broadcasting & Cable.
  17. ^ "Spotlight on the CableFAX 100—Crown Media Family Nets' Bill Abbott". Cablefax. March 9, 2012.

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